Blowing The Lid Off This Rejection Thing

rejectionAll writers are used to rejection (either that or they are dangerously off-balance, sitting in their garrets and muttering about all the people who don’t understand their genius).  But I’ve noticed something interesting, lately.  Out of all the writers I know who have a fair number of short stories out on the street at the same time (let’s say half a dozen), all of us have had multiple days with two or even three rejections coming within hours of each other.

Clearly, this seems a bit improbable.  If we use round numbers, someone with 6 short stories out under submission could expect a roughly 1.7% chance of getting a rejection on any given day (assuming that editors work weekends, which evidence certainly suggests they do).  So, if my math is right, that means about a 0.0004% chance of getting three in one day.  Now I could believe that happening, but this has happened to 100% of my sample, remember, multiple times in some cases.

Clearly, this isn’t just happenstance.  My original theory was that the editors of publications gathered in bars (with names like The Red Pen, and The Dangling Participle – you know, editor’s bars) every few months, where they’d have rejection parties (other than Shimmerbadgers don’t drink).  They’d save up all their reading for these parties, under this theory, rejecting dozens or hundred of stories in a single night, fueled by beer and chicken wings (Scotch, you say?  No, that would be agents and book editor types).  Naturally, you’d expect clusters of rejections under that system.

privateRyanLetterBut I realized that while many of us seem to experience these triple rejection days, none of us seem to have them on the same day.  That kind of messes up my rejection party theory, so I have a new one. Now I’m pretty sure that the editors of magazines simply store up their rejections as they happen, and coordinate with one another so as to send out as many to the same person on the same day as possible.  So it is sort of like that scene in Saving Private Ryan where the women writing letters of condolence realize with mounting horror that one mother is about to get three letters.  Except in this case that’s the sweet spot they’re aiming for.  Why would they do this, you ask?  I’m guessing that it is to break the spirit of as many writers as possible, so they give up and become editors.

~ by smwilliams on March 12, 2013.

3 Responses to “Blowing The Lid Off This Rejection Thing”

  1. Nah, it’s to break the writers so they stop sending them more stories they have to read. Them becoming editors is just a plus.

    • Well, yeah, it’s a twofer. The number of people submitting goes down even as the number of people available to deal with submissions goes up. It’s diabolically clever.

  2. You know when you walk into a store and the check-out stands are empty? The cashiers are looking around with a stupid look on their faces or they’re reading a book. And then when you get up there, all of a sudden, every other person in that 10,000 square foot place goes to the one, open check-out stand. All those extra cashiers are equally, suddenly gone.

    Yeah. Like that.

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